By India Purnell, Faculty Assoc., School Of Social Work
Have you found that ideal company with whom you would like to gain hands-on experience, but they don’t have an internship program? Did you know that you have the ability to facilitate the process of turning your dream internship into a reality?
Though it may seem most students receive formal guidance in choosing and applying for internships, that is not the case for everyone. Some individuals are eager and resilient enough to approach employers about how beneficial internship programs are for all parties involved. If done successfully, you can leave your mark on an experience by using your innovative Sun Devil skills.
If you find yourself in the position of wanting to craft an individualized placement, here are some helpful tips:
Make sure you are a qualified candidate before you embark on this journey. Ensure that you meet the minimum qualifications or certifications for your specific school, industry, or program internship. Every department will have its own set of regulations, so before you dive in, do your research. If there are no formal internship opportunities in your program, either through electives or built into the curriculum, then confirming you have most, if not all, general education credits complete and an accumulative GPA of no less than a 2.75* is a good place to start.
*While there may not be a restriction on minimum GPA for the schools department or for the organization, it is important for you as a student to place academic priorities above extracurricular commitments, which means you may not yet be ready for the responsibility of on internship.
Make an official inquiry about an internship program available. Just because it is not apparently visible on the company website, it does not mean that the organization does not have some kind of formal or informal internship opportunity. There could be a host of reasons as to why this information is by inquiry only, but it is important that you do the necessary leg work before reaching out to any recruiter contacts. If you have no luck with your search, contact the recruiter or correspondence representative that is listed for the company.
Know what you want from the organization. It is important to know what you would like to gain from this experience. For example, is working outside of the office important to you? Would you like opportunities to shadow and gain experience with other departments outside of your direct placement area? These opportunities may or may not be available, so you have to determine how firm a requirement is and what can be negotiated.
Collecting this information at the beginning stages will help in the process of advocating on behalf of the company where you wish to begin an internship. For instance, you may be asked why you believe that the company would be a viable partnership with Arizona State University by either the organization or faculty and staff of the college.
Market yourself as an asset. Even if you have absolutely no experience in the field of your internship, you are an asset to any company in which you choose to intern. A key component to this journey is being able to articulate what you can offer as an intern candidate. One way you can achieve this is by emphasizing your strengths and skills developed.
For tips on how to market your personal skills, reflect on some of the experiences that you have had, review accomplishment statements from your resume and be ready to display your talents. Remember to keep things relevant to the industry and highlight general leadership skills that you possess. Now you may be asking, “What is an accomplishment statement?” if you are, I suggest checking out this previous blog written on how to build effective accomplishment statements in your resume.
Get your academic advisors involved in the conversation. Informing them of your intentions as early in the process may prevent you from taking unnecessary steps and shows the school as well as the placement that you are serious about your pursuit. There are steps that the company will need to complete on their end, so keeping fluid communication with all parties involved is a must.
It takes a village so…Network, Network, Network! Use any connections and resources that you may have to learn more about the company. Solicit Handshake, LinkedIn, and ASU’s Mentor Network to find alumni members that work in your industry or organization of choice and ask for tips or advice on approaching the conversation around internships.
Though you are the reason for the magic unfolding, be prepared to interview if requested. You may have solidified the opportunity but not your place. Organizations may have stipulations to prevent any misconduct in hiring, so don’t assume that you have escaped that hurdle. Be confident in what you can offer and prepare just as you would for any other important interview process.
Document your accomplishments and share your story. Now that you have accepted an offer with your dream internship that YOU have made a reality, make sure that you have documented your accomplishments and the skills that it took for you to complete this task. If you have a great experience and believe other students would enjoy a placement with the same organization, share your story with your peers and continue the experience for students that are approaching the idea of interning. Not only have you developed a new community of connections with ASU as an institution, but you are leaving a legacy to continue on after you have completed your internship experience.
Remember that there is no “cookie cutter” approach to developing your own internship. The above tips are to help you along the road to success. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to make an appointment with a career service advisor, either in person or online.